Reflections of a race I didn’t run

My husband finished his first 50 Mile Ultra Marathon this past weekend. He’s done four 50km ultra marathon races over the past 10 months. And this one actually was 51.7 miles, because it’s never 50 miles exactly. So that is 83.3 kms. Running in the heat, rain, dark, trees, hills, you name it. He endured it. And not alone, there were 1400 racers of all kinds. Some ran solo, some ran in teams. But either way, they endured a significant amount of suffering along the way. Self inflicted, of course. No avoiding the tough stuff in a race like that.

And for my husband, Vince, he ran for 21 hours and 11 minutes. 

If you have ever been to an ultra race, it’s very anticlimactic at the finish. He literally crossed the finish line. There was a small clap from the stragglers that were there, and myself (of course). He received a medal from a race volunteer. And then headed to the hotel room to shower. That’s it. You definitely don’t race for the celebration at the end.

As I watched him race this weekend, I was very reflective in what it means to push our bodies. And even more, to push our minds. This was suffering, and in this case, for 21 hours and 11 minutes. Vince trained for months and months. Pushing himself all of the time, going that extra mile, or that extra 30 minutes just to see if he could.

Now that this race is over, he has his focus on his next race, September 9th in Lethbridge. 100kms at the Lost Soul Ultra Marathon. And he will finish that one too. He will continue to train physically, continue with his sports therapy, and continue to push himself every single day.

Watching this is inspiring. And not just for athletes, but for life as a whole. I took away a few things that can be practiced daily, and all from a 21 hour race I didn’t run.


You do you.
Literally. When Vince talks about racing, most people say things like “why would you do that” or “what are you running from” or “what’s wrong with you”. Some will congratulate him, or ask questions about how he got started. But the norm is not curiosity. The norm is to almost downplay what he is doing, so that he seems like the crazy one. 
And act like not doing something hard is the norm for living life.
When actually in this life we get to do what our bodies and minds will allow. Is it always comfortable? Not always. But does that matter? Not to people like Vince.
Don’t listen to others, whether they are your family or friends, or complete strangers. You are the only person who is accountable to you. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t wait. Life won’t wait, and time passes anyhow.

Put in the reps.
Now that you are doing you, it’s time to put in the reps. And this one is crucial to success. And you get to define success, but putting in the reps is non-negotiable. Vince will run an average of 50-75kms / week depending on his training schedule. And that time on trial is why he finished.
In your life, if you want to write. Write
If you want to run. Run
If you want to mountain bike like a champ. Ride
It’s up to you. Every single time. No excuses why you aren’t doing something. If you aren’t doing it, you don’t want to.

Get support.
This one applies to everything in life. Hire a coach, find a mentor, join a club, read a book, listen to a podcast.
Funny story. Vince’s ultra career started with David Goggins book, Can’t Hurt Me. He has listened to that book 8 times. Mostly running, training for the big races. Find your inspo. It doesn’t have to be anyone else’s inspiration. It can just be yours. Again, you do you.

Believe in yourself.
Sure, we can all say we believe in ourselves. Heck, even I can say it. Question is, do we actually believe it? If we believe it, how come we aren’t doing the things? I believe in myself on the day to day. But the big things, the life changing things. I’m still working on that belief system. And I am getting better at it. Every day. 
One way to help believing in yourself is to not verbalize things that don’t support that belief. Vince has a tricky IT band, and a temperamental hip flexor. Pre-race I’m sure he was nervous about it acting up, or preventing him from downhill, or some such thought. But he did not verbalize it. He did his training, he went to physio and he strengthened his hips. And the injury’s stayed away. For 83.3 kms. I’d say that there is a lot be learned from this. Do not verbalize unhelpful thoughts. 

Do it for you.
The finish of an Ultra Marathon is about 5 seconds long. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, 21 hours of race day trail running for 5 seconds of mediocre admiration. Vince crosses the finish line, gets a medal from a volunteer, and it’s over. Whatever in life you are pursuing, do it for you. Do not do it for your ego, or your parents, or your partner. Do it for you. Because you deserve that kind of attention. And the person you deserve it from is you.
If you are chasing rewards from others, external accolades, you won’t enjoy the process. You will resent it when it gets hard. 

As I sit and reflect post race, I wonder what in life I am missing out on because I don’t think I can do it, or I don’t believe in myself enough.

I’m going to share with you one thing that I am embarrassed about, or maybe I just don’t talk about it. I can’t swim. I’m pretty afraid of the water. It has to do with my childhood, but that’s a story for another day. I’ve tried a few times to take adult swimming lessons, but they just didn’t work out like I had hoped. So, to combat this fear, I have booked an Accelerated Resolution Therapy session with my therapist** and in August I have booked private swimming lessons. Because my body deserves to learn how to swim. And fear has no place in my mind. 

Where in your life are you afraid to go? Is it somewhere that you have a history with, or is the fear just a story you have made up? 

I encourage you to explore. You deserve a life that you get to be you. And do the things that you were intended to do. 

**Note: If you live in the Calgary area, this is the therapist that I use for everything, including ART.

Donita Fowler

Coach + Creator
Manage your emotions and you can navigate challenges with a balanced perspective.